Diamondback Terrapin gets His name from the diamond-shaped patterns on his carapace (upper shell). This freshwater Turtle lives in brackish water along the Atlantic coast of the United States. Unlike Marine Turtle, Diamondback Terrapin cannot drink seawater because his body cannot excrete salt. However if the Turtle stays only in fresh water, He will develop a skin fungus.
Diamondback Terrapin spends most of the day in the water, floating on his back (carapace down). The Turtle keeps his body steady with his powerful hind legs. At night, the Terrapin buries Himself in the mud for warmth.
Relentlessly hunted for His meat, Diamondback Terrapin was brought to near extinction in the early 20th Century. What saved the Turtle was the American Prohibition on alcohol during the 1920s, because alcohol is needed in cooking the turtle meat. At the same time, U.S. federal and state laws were passed to save the Turtle. Today, Diamondback Terrapin has recovered in numbers, although He will never be as numerous, as He once was.
Diamondback Terrapin teaches about having a second chance. Once you get another chance, take it and do all that you can with it. With His second chance, Diamondback Terrapin came back from near-extinction.
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Terrapin is an Algonquian word for “little turtle”, and usually is applied to Turtles that are caught for food in brackish waters. The mascot of the University of Maryland (USA) is “Tetsudo”, a Diamondback Terrapin. A muscular Tetsudo spotlights their “Fear The Turtle” Sports Campaign.
Conservation Note: Diamondback Terrapin is a protected species in the United States.
Photo of Diamondback Terrapin courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)